Second ascent of Black Spout Wall, IX 9, for Greg Boswell and Jeff Mercier

© Greg Boswell

Greg Boswell and Jeff Mercier have made the second ascent of Black Spout Wall (Winter) (IX 9), on Black Spout Pinnacle, Lochnagar.

After poor conditions led to Boswell and Mercier cancelling a proposed trip to the Norweigan island of Senja, they turned their attentions to Scotland instead, and have since been on a minor rampage. In the past three days, they have climbed Savage Slit (Winter) (V 6) and Migrant Direct (VII 8), as well as adding a 'new two pitch finish' to Manticore VIII 8.

Their hardest objective across those first three days, however, was Black Spout Wall, which they climbed on Jeff's very first day in Scotland. Whilst the route is graded IX 9, Greg believes it is in fact a 'very sustained' IX 10. 

Prior to their ascent, the route had been left unrepeated for more than a decade, having first been climbed by Guy Robertson and Nick Bullock in February 2012.

Whilst Black Spout Wall (E3 5c) is a Summer E3, first ascensionist Nick Bullock wrote in his account of the first ascent that the route actually starts up the first two pitches of Steep Frowning Glories (E6 6b), both 5c, before taking in the second pitch of Black Spout Wall at 5c, the third pitch of The Link (VS 4c), the fourth pitch of Black Spout Wall (Black Spout Wall - The Inhospitable Crack (E2 5b)), and finally the overhanging finish to The Link Direct (VIII 7).

All in all, the route comprises 170m of climbing.

Speaking on Instagram, Boswell said:

'When it came to making the most of our time, finding the good conditions and having the opportunity to climb some of the best mixed routes in the world (maybe I'm biased), there was only one realistic destination…Scotland! Jeff jumped on a flight to Edinburgh and we now have two weeks of winter vanlife based adventures around my homeland, searching for epic climbs and new first ascents as we go!'

Speaking of the final pitch of the route, The Inhospitable Crack, he continued: 

'It was super tricky! A wide crack with nothing to hook at the back, just the head of my axe marginally catching on the sidewalls with nothing to stop it if it ripped. Plus my arms were wilting with fatigue after the beefy pitches we'd already done lower down to reach this point. I had to fight pretty hard as I progressed into the steepness above, but eventually found myself on the turfy ledges, which marked the end to the difficulties on the route!'

Jeff added 'Two weeks of figure skating in infamous slabs, long minutes cleaning the rock of its thickness of snow to find a hypothetical foothold, endless moments trying to place protection in an awkward and frozen crack, "I'm going but I'm afraid" at every moment. No, I don't want to change anything, I love it!'

Not a team to rest on their laurels, Greg, Jeff, and Hamish Frost have since added a new route Cul Mor, The Fly By, which comes in at IX 9. More to follow...

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Greg Boswell is one of Scotland’s most experienced young climbers. Having started climbing in 2004 at the age of 13 he has since then tried to excel in most aspects of the sport. He has travelled all over the world...

Greg's Athlete Page 26 posts 5 videos

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